Wobbly Business Guy

That Guy, Franklin and Varick Street, New York City

Seeing a stranger who’s wildly, unmistakeably intoxicated on public transportation can be a source of morbid fascination for a fellow late-evening traveler. One look at That Guy’s red, rolling eyes, thick thumbs unsuccessfully tapping out an email on his smartphone, woozy posture, and overall air of bloated dissipation, and I knew I was in the presence of a very special species: Fancy Debauched That Guy.

If I were to guess, I’d assume he was returning from a client dinner with the firm of Del Frisco, Bobby Van, Smith & Wollensky, and had consumed 3–4 warm-up martinis with the tuna tartare, a resounding bottle of Cabernet with his porterhouse, and several single malt scotches over a needless flourless chocolate cake before tottering off to the downtown 1 train. The question of why he didn’t take a cab or a private car led me to further intriguing speculation — maybe he was on a clandestine mission downtown to visit a lady-friend, one not the co-recipient of the fat gold wedding band on his left finger; and didn’t want any credit card swipes or Uber e-receipts as an electronic trail. Hm!

Then I had to ponder what special lady would be particularly enthused to receive Fancy Debauched That Guy in his current state, and what satisfaction he could possibly get out of the encounter besides a long snoring couch-nap (I must add it took him a long, long time to ascend the stairs, with several stops to regain his balance). Something told me it was not amour he was after, here at the Franklin Street stop.

No, perhaps, just perhaps, after days and nights in a climate-controlled corporate shangri-la of private rooms, private clubs, private meetings, and private cars, he just felt like slumming it, like in the old days, when he was just a kid, hustling his way onwards and upwards, when the future was as vast and unknowable as the barely visible stars in the downtown night sky. Maybe he longed to harken back to a time when he had high vibrant, pulsing ideals and big, heart-swelling dreams about Success and Justice and Power and Love and believed he could hold all these clashing forces together in his strong young body and mind and become a man of heroic proportions — a name, a notable, a Somebody. A time before he realized that life’s most precious commodities are not social prestige, nor mogul-hood, nor off-shore accounts, but youth and vitality; and that both were slowly but inevitably ticking away on his heavy Audemars-Piaget watch.

(Or, alternately, maybe he had a midnight reservation at the Brandy Library and couldn’t find a cab. Either way — good night to you, That Guy, and good luck.)

Originally published at oh-thatguy.tumblr.com.

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